I’m still so excited over our apple-picking porch party that was featured on SMP Living last week. And it’s not a party without a signature cocktail — our autumn apple punch was a perfect pairing for our tasty treats. We mixed up Bulleit Rye, apple cider, and cardamom clove simple syrup with a squeeze of lemon juice and served them in mason jar mugs with an apple garnish. I’m not going to lie, we had quite a few of these that weekend, and they were so darn delicious—I had to share the full recipe with you below!
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  • Apple cider
  • Bourbon or Rye
  • Royal Rose’s cardamom clove simple syrup
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Apple for garnishing
  1. Combine 3/4 cup of apple cider, 1/3 cup of bourbon or rye and 1 tsp of cardamom clove simple syrup over ice.
  2. Squeeze a slice of fresh lemon juice into the mixture and divide into glasses.
  3. Garnish with a fresh apple slice.

All images by Bring To Light Photography

Cocktails are one of my favorite things. And another one of my favorite things? Adorable branding.  Thus my new obsession with Royal Rose‘s line of organic small-batch simple syrups. They are the prettiest little bottles and come in interesting flavors that I’m loving experimenting with in different cocktails.  I purchased the rose syrup to top off glasses of champagne, and the cardamom clove syrup for fall cocktails — I made an apple cider and bourbon punch with it last weekend (recipe to come soon!).  I have a feeling I may need to try the rest of the line, and gosh won’t they look cute on my bar cart?

Simple SyrupImage via Royal Rose


After a rather busy week last week, I was so happy to have a lazy Sunday on the books over the weekend. I caught up on blogs and my DVR, lounged around in my cozy new sweatshirt, and got a pot of bolognese cooking for the better part of the afternoon. Making a big pot of tomato sauce just reminds me of being at my Grandma’s house growing up — the smell of the garlic and onions filling up the whole house. I used a recipe from Williams-Sonoma as my guide, but made it my own with a few ingredient swaps.  It totally hit the spot and exceeded my expectations. It’s a recipe that I’ll be adding to my cookbook file for future reference, comfort food at its best!


One of my best girlfriends has a birthday coming up, and we have a mutual passion for donuts — I wouldn’t be exaggerating by saying we exchange at least 2-3 emails a week about donuts. Which is why I thought it was completely acceptable to make a cake, and then add donuts on top of it for her birthday celebration this weekend.  Conveniently, I had recently purchase a mini-donut pan, and followed the recipe that came with the pan (from Williams-Sonoma). They were surprisingly simple to make and totally jazzed up my box-mix cake I made for the occasion. So remember:  the next time you’re making a three layer chocolate-chocolate cake and you ask yourself “Is this enough?” the answer is no, no it’s not enough, and then add donuts on top of that cake.

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This summer when we were on our cross-country honeymoon road trip, we stopped at a restaurant in Cleveland where I promptly demolished my bridal diet by ordering the baked mac and cheese. When the dish came out the waiter stopped to point out some homemade applesauce accompanying the cheesy dish. All he asked was that I give it a try, dip the steaming hot pasta into the cool, sweet applesauce — he assured me it would change my life. And it did. It makes total sense, I’d heard of people eating a slice of sharp cheddar cheese with apple pie, but it just never occurred to me to try this combination before, but it was completely and totally delicious. So this week I made some macaroni and cheese and had to try making some homemade applesauce to go with it.

Processed with VSCOcamLet me tell you a little secret: making homemade applesauce is as easy as pie (you like that apple joke?).  I peeled and cored 10 apples (a friendly farmer at our farmer’s market recommended using gravenstein apples, if you can find them.) and combined them with half a cup of apple cider, half a cup of brown sugar, one tablespoon of granulated sugar, and three cinnamon sticks. I put it in our crock-pot on high for 4 hours, removing the cinnamon sticks after the first hour, and stirring occasionally. And that’s it, simple as that! Make sure to serve the applesauce cold — I’m convinced the difference in temperature is just as important as the balance of the flavors.


I have a little Fall-inspired cocktail to share today as we gear up for the weekend: Apple Cider Sangria. I made this last weekend and it delicious — I love creating a pitcher of pre-made drinks when having friends over, it’s nice to have something already prepared so you can dive right into the party! To make the sangria, I chopped up two small apples, a half an orange, a few slices of lemon, and some cinnamon sticks and poured a bottle of red wine over the top. I let the red wine soak in the fruit overnight, and right before it’s ready to be served, I poured in a can and a half of hard apple cider (I used Down East cider — one of my favorites and totally delicious on its own — which is why I finished the other half of the second while making dinner!).  Be sure to scoop out some of the fruit into your glass when you serve it — cheers!

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I tried my hand and some homemade pasta this weekend, and finally got a chance to use the pasta machine we got for our wedding — the process of making pasta seems so daunting at first, but it’s actually amazingly simple, and so worth the effort! I tried two different methods, the first was a classic all-purpose flour and eggs combination, and the second used an egg flour and water.  I also tried two different fillings with the dough variations, one was a ricotta, parmesan, and Italian sausage stuffing that I served with a red sauce, and the other was a butternut squash with maple brown sugar that my in-laws brought home to me from Vermont — I served those  with brown butter and toasted pine nuts.  I preferred the egg flour for a stuffed pasta like this, and think the all-purpose flour works better for a cut pasta like fettucini, but overall: YUM. Luckily I made about a gazillion of each, so I will be enjoying leftovers all week!

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A few weeks ago when we were in Maine for a wedding, we hanging around the rental cottage for the ‘after-after party’ and a cousin of the groom started whipping up grilled cheeses with the local blueberry jams that had come in our welcome bags. I have since been dreaming about this late-night snack and realized all of the untapped potential of grilled cheese experiments. So I set to work this weekend to test some gourmet grilled cheese recipes that would be perfect for a grilled cheese bar at a casual party, or served bite-size as an appetizer.

Grilled Cheese Bar Ingredients

Are you ready for these pairings? First up, I recreated my late night inspiration with sharp English cheddar and wild blueberry jam (this one is still my favorite!). For a savory sandwich I combined goat cheese with cracked black pepper and fresh green chives (this won the husband vote). And for the most unique combination, I used a french brie, drizzled with honey, and topped with some sweet raisins.  My cast iron skillet was  pumping out these crusty, buttery little treats and we had quite the Saturday taste-testing all of my concoctions — I’m definitely using this idea for some simple entertaining with friends!

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Last night I had one of my girlfriends over for some dinner and drinks on our porch — I’m determined to soak up the warm(ish) weather as long as possible — and truthfully, I didn’t have a dinner planned until about an hour before her arrival. But leftover fig spread and some tasty goat cheese caught my eye in the fridge and I went with it. A quick spin through the grocery store and I had the makings of a fig, goat cheese, prosciutto pizza — I jazzed up with some fresh chives when it came out of the oven, and had rolled some special rosemary infused sea salt into the crust. Sometimes simple is just better, and this was certainly the case — my last-minute meal was a hit, and it paired perfectly with one of the iced tea infused honey wines I picked up from last weekend in Maine!

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This weekend, I let the Farmer’s Market be the inspiration for Sunday dinner and decided to make whatever looked good — and a pretty little container of colorful tomatoes caught my eye. We scooped some up and then hit the fresh pasta tent for some lemon basil linguine and we were on our way to making a tasty meal. While the water was heating for the pasta, I cooked the tomatoes over high heat with a little EVOO and a tablespoon of butter, salt, and pepper. After the tomatoes cooked down and started to burst, I lowered the temperature and sauteed in three cloves of chopped garlic and a handful of pine nuts. Then after a minute, I added in a quarter of a cup of white wine, and three tablespoons of pesto, plus a few spoonfuls of the pasta water. Then I drained the pasta when it was just about cooked and finished cooking it in the pan with the tomato mixture. We served it with freshly chopped basil leaves and a little Parmesan cheese — perfection!

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